Daniel Ricciardo's dominance of practice at the Hungarian Grand Prix fuelled hopes of a three-team battle in the final race before the mid-season break.
A home victory for Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone and Sebastian Vettel's late puncture slashed the German's lead in the drivers' standings to just a point.
Hamilton can boast more victories than any other driver at the Hungaroring, first winning a decade ago and taking the chequered flag in Budapest for a fifth time last year.
It was Red Bull's Ricciardo who laid down a marker on Friday, though, setting the pace in both practice sessions.
Ferrari and Mercedes have bossed the F1 season so far, but Ricciardo's clean sweep behind the wheel of an upgraded RB 13 was a big tonic for Red Bull.
Whether they can challenge when it really matters remains to be seen in what promises to be another gripping weekend.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM PRACTICE
Aerodynamic updates did the trick for Ricciardo, who topped the timesheets in FP1 with a lap of one minute, 18.486 seconds.
Kimi Raikkonen was 0.234secs off the pace set by the Australian in the opening session, with Hamilton third and Vettel back in sixth.
Antonio Giovinazzi, filling in for Haas' Kevin Magnussen, lost control and hurtled into the barriers before Jolyon Palmer smashed right at the end of the first session, the red flags coming out for a second occasion.
Ricciardo, a winner in Budapest three years ago, went from strength to strength, flying once again in what was a more encouraging FP2 for Vettel.
Championship leader Vettel was 0.183secs slower than Ricciardo, whose circuit of 1:18.455 was good enough to complete a double.
Valtteri Bottas, fifth in FP1, was third and Hamilton finished the second session down in fifth after switch from soft to supersoft tyres.
A second crash for Palmer halted the session on a day which did little to improve his prospects of keeping his seat with Renault. Sauber's Pascal Wehrlein also brought the red flags out by crashing at turn 11.
1. Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) - 177 points
2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) - 176 points
3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) - 154 points
4. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) - 117 points
5. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) - 98 points
1. Mercedes - 330 points
2. Ferrari - 275 points
3. Red Bull - 174 points
4. Force India - 95 points
5. Williams - 41 points
2016: Lewis Hamilton
2015: Sebastian Vettel
2014: Daniel Ricciardo
Sunny days are forecast in the Hungarian capital for qualifying and raceday.